Making sense of COVID-19, sports and the rules |

Making sense of COVID-19, sports and the rules

In short, they’re making it up

It’s been a difficult winter sports season with COVID-19, but we’re still playing and better days are ahead, despite some local teams being sidelined. (Barry Eckhaus
Special to the Daily)

When I sat down next to Vail Christian coach Sheldon Kuhns and he just casually mentioned that Vinny Nowicki, Jeffrey, Hall and Theo Moritz were out because of COVID-19 issues for the Saints’ game against the Vail Mountain School on Thursday, I just started writing a story assuming the Gore Rangers would win.

I had this elaborate lead involving “Game of Thrones,” and how the Vail Mountain School was the king of the North. Since it was the second legitimate Stark son, Bran, who becomes king in the series, Cole, not MacKay, Pattison gets the Iron Throne. As a parting gift for MacKay, he wouldn’t have had to attend Red Wedding and gets to live. We’re generous at the Vail Daily.

Naturally, Vail Christian won, 53-43, and I got to press, “Delete.” I’m OK with that. As a practical matter, I usually don’t like it when life gets in the way of the story I have already carefully written.

Thursday night was fun, though. That’s why we like sports. VMS should have won that game just like Vail Christian should have beat flipping Meeker last weekend.

What was even more interesting is what happened after the game. Vail Christian’s community went into overdrive on Facebook after everyone had left in the gym.

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Apparently, Colorado Department of Public Health reversed itself on its automatic 14-day quarantine rule for student-athletes who test positive for the virus or get caught in contact tracing.

So welcome back, Vinny, Jeffrey and Theo. They missed games due to contract tracing and tested negative, which, of course, is a positive development, for the ‘Rona on Friday, according to Saints coach Sheldon Kuhns.

Enjoy your game Saturday against Caprock Academy. As a side note, Vail Christian basketball, you’ve got to play with the focus you had against Soroco and VMS when you didn’t have those three. Trust your sports editor here, people.

But …

While we’re thrilled to see Nowicki, Hall and Moritz back in the wild, we can’t help but ask the question, “What about our other teams?”

If you’re Eagle Valley wrestling or boys’ basketball, you are rightly asking, “Why the heck did you wait until now to change the rules?”

Devils wrestling was exposed to COVID on Feb. 20 at the modified Warrior Classic in Fruita. One of the wrestlers had COVID symptoms on the day after and Eagle Valley shut the door on the program on Monday, Feb. 22 for the mandatory 14-day quarantine. A 14-day quarantine precluded Eagle Valley’s wrestling in the regional tournament this weekend, and, as a result, qualifying for state.

Had the rules been the same for student-athletes as they were and are for students at the time, the wrestler who fell ill would have been out for 10 days and the rest of the team 7, contingent on an all-clear from the COVID test. Had this decision been a bit earlier, the Devils are wrestling as I type on Friday.

Meanwhile, Eagle Valley boys basketball spent two weeks in the Q because of contact tracing from a JV game. Again, here, it sure would have been nice to have had to observe only 7 days, get a good test and then return.

Did it ruin the basketball team’s season? Not totally. The Devils were 2-4 before the COVID halt, so they probably were going to have a hard time making the playoffs. It still put a major crimp in their season.

Then stop to think that Eagle Valley boys’ basketball and wrestling have high crossover with the football team, which also got a 14-day Q, and you can see how Gypsum athletes are scratching their heads.

The blame game

We all desire a neat and simple solution to problems, especially these days. Yes, just going to the grocery store seems like an odyssey (Mask? Check. Shopping list? Check. Armor and mace to buy paper products? Check.)

We also need someone or something to blame, be it a politician (not going there), a country or certain people (spare me the conspiracy theories) or a nameless, faceless bureaucracy like CDPHE or CHSAA. (A-ha.)

Trust me, it doesn’t take me much to whip myself into a froth over CHSAA. The organization views anyone west of the Front Range as irrelevant and since all our schools here pay their dues, well, I have the crazy idea that it should actually give a hoot about schools west of Clear Creek in Idaho Springs.

As easy as it would be to just yell at CHSAA or CDPHE — and, it would be satisfying to unload on CHSAA — it’s not their fault.

There was no “in case of emergency, break the glass for the super-secret sports pandemic plan.” We really didn’t have a plan for general life, much less sports. So don’t expect one now.

Yes, they — being CHSAA, CDPHE and every other government body, business and anything else — are making it up on the fly because everything changes so quickly with this virus and the latest change came Thursday night.

I feel for Eagle Valley wrestling, basketball and football teams. They did get hosed, especially wrestling with the finality of the season, and, in some cases, careers. They weren’t the first. They won’t be the last.

The thing to remember is that we are getting there. I didn’t think we were going to have wrestling at all. (How does one snap a person in half while maintaining a proper distance of 6 feet?) I thought basketball and hockey wouldn’t make it, yet here we are with the playoffs next week.

It’s agonizing, but we are getting to the point where we can discuss upsets and propose writing stories based on science-fiction TV shows.

Hang in there. Keep wearing your mask.

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